Thursday, February 26, 2009

Credit Crunch 101?

Just something I saw the other day at red tory. An explanation of the credit crunch that even I can understand.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Deployment Risk Management and Other Sexy Talk

I'm back at work.

I thought that I might be going to Angola. Ended up in Israel. Not sure how that happenned. Angola actually had some interesting work planned and I have been doing some modeling for it. The idea is run some production tools into a well on wireline. Problem is the well is horizontal so how do you push on a rope? Not to worry these people have a downhole tractor that can push the tools down a horizontal well. My job is just to answer a couple of questions.

For a certain wellhead pressure how heavy will the tool have to be to be able to go down against well pressure?
If the tool were to become stuck at the bottom of the well, what kind of tension can we pull at surface before damage to the cable occurs?
Is it possible to design a weak point at the tool so that the cable can be recovered in the event of the tool sticking?
How much force will the tractor have to exert on the horizontal section to pull the cable along the horizontal section?

There is a whole new field of wireline engineering based upon these kinds of questions known as Deployment Risk Management. As well paths become deeper and more tortuous, the material limits of cables become more and more important in terms of what can be run on the end of them. Twenty years ago or so most oil wells were reasonably straight, nowadays the straight hole is the exception rather than the rule. Several companies now offer deployment risk software and there is some effort to get people trained in the technology.

Problem is that oil companies have not attached a value to this service ie: they expect it for free. Service companies have been reluctant to charge for it as it is only a model - a simulation based on a lot of assumptions very few of which can be empirically verified. The model is only ever valuable if something goes wrong; in which case the most common comment is "well why didn't you model for this problem". Screwed over either way. Sigh!

Besides the deployment modelling the other interesting thing about the Angola work I'm not doing is that it is a production job. For my company its unusual work and much overlooked (in my opinion) by the company management. Production logging is usually done to determine the cause of declining production in a well. Oil companies are very interested to know why a well is suddenly producing water or why the production has dropped by 90% in three months. It directly affects their cash flow. Usually the production log is planned as part of a well intervention designed to improve the producing rate in the well. Because this sort of work is unusual (for us anyway) tools are rare and there are not many people globally who are qualified to run them. The tractor requirement further limits the list of people available. As far as I know I'm the only person who can run this particular service with this particular tractor and is also able to interpret the results. I'm waiting for the bosses to figure this out but so far they are of the opinion that "anyone can do it". Time will tell but I'm guessing that there will be a last minute panic to get me down to Angola in a couple of weeks. Last I checked they still haven't figured out how to get the tools to talk (shaking my head).

I'll keep you posted

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Fail: Operasi Valentine

The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) seems to have found itself in the news lately. What with their members turning up in massage parlors, threats to prosecute Jaipongan under the porn law, and its support of the porn law itself, seem to contradict their stated appeals to be a more inclusive political party. In light of this I really did not know what to make of the PKS's Depok branch recent operasi valentine initiative , a program to deliver chocolates and flowers to young people in the hope that this largess will garner votes in the upcoming election. Now its a pretty cynical assumption on the critical powers of the electorate if you think that you can sway them with candy, but what really surprised me was the words valentine's day and PKS being mentioned in the same sentence. I thought that the PKS didn't like valentines day. Were they turning over a new leaf of was this whole operasi Valentine just another cynical ploy?
Miraculously my musings were answered today when the chairman of the PKS put the official kaybosh on the Depok chapters little plan. To quote party chairman Tifatul Sembiring “The plan has been aborted because the Shariah Council bans it. The reason is because [Valentine’s Day] is related to Jewish culture (wtf?? Jewish culture?). We would never celebrate anything that is not in line with Islamic culture..So it turned that the PKS Depok branch were not being cynical or inclusive - they were merely simpletons who acted on their own before checking with the big bosses. All of this begs the questions:
a) How can the PKS claim to be inclusive when their leaders repeated claim the contrary;
b) If their own cadres don't know what the PKS represents then how can they sell a platform to the electorate?

It will be interesting to see how the PKS fares in the upcoming election.

The PKS has their own site here (in indonesian)
Their mission statement along with summaries of other political parties can be found here (in english)
Jaipongan - A dance form from West Java

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The House That Joko Built - Part 1

This is the farmer sowing the corn,
That kept the the cock that crowed in the morn,
That waked the priest all shaven and shorn,
That married the man all tattered and torn,
That kissed the maiden all forlorn,
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn,
That tossed the dog,That worried the cat,
That killed the rat,
That ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.
- Nursery Rhyme

For the past few years I have enjoyed the view of the swamp/sawah across from my house. One of my neighbors has a water buffalo and its somehow reassuring to see him every morning, bellowing away while chest deep in the mud. But all that's about to change. A few days ago some folks turned up with survey stakes and some string and proceeded to mark out territory in what I've come to think of as my swamp. Apparently the land has been sold and someone is building a villa on it. I have no real objection to this - They will build something anyway and better a villa than a bengkel (motorcycle repair shop). The project could take a few months depending on the flow of materiels so I thought I would take some photos now, and some more a month or so and see how they get on.

Before any work can be started the accommodation of the staff must be considered. There are about 6 or 7 workers and they assembled this bamboo lean-to from scratch in a couple of hours. Haven't worked out where the water and err... toilet facilities are just yet. Not much in the way of lighting at nighttime either. The mosquitoes must be feasting. Apparently it's cheaper to bring in laborers from Java then it is to hire locals. The disadvantage of course of using imported labor is when you discover faults in the piping 2 months after the house is built these guys will be very difficult to track down.

The work proper. There is enough going on here to keep any critical path analyst busy. There will eventually be a wall where the trench is and the area inside the trench will be filled with crushed stone to make the foundation for the building to come. The limestone piled up next to the road will have to be spread by hand over the entire area - one shovelful at a time. Note the lack of anything resembling power tools. This is all done by hand - very impressive in this heat.

This man is assembling the rebar for the beton bertulang (reinforced concrete). These will be used in foundations to give the structure some earthquake resistance and tensile strength. Each of the cross members is attached to the stringers by means of baling wire.

More rebar. Note the safety footwear.

Eventually there will be a wall where this man is digging. The wall will support the crushed stone that is being dumped in. The guy dug this trench very quickly...about a day and a half from start to finish

Of course any project has its detractors. These bovine former residents look on in dismay at the of the loss of their playground.

As an engineer, I'm rather interested in this project. I was away when my house was being built. From a personal perspective my Father built a house from scratch back in the 80's. Mom and the kids were conscripted into his personal labor force; luckily I managed to avoid most of the draft by having 2 jobs at the time. Dad would have loved these guys.

Hope to update later this week.

My update - 12-feb-2009. Posted 25-feb-2009
I meant to get this in earlier but I had a plane to catch. The boys (and girls) have started on the foundation. These foundation walls are disconcertingly large.

They also started drilling a well. this part of town has yet to be hooked up to the city water supply. Usually they drill to 50 m.

This will be all till I get back. Stay tuned!